09/08/2014 07:47 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Gender-Based Medicine: The Path to Better Health for Women


Gender-based medicine is a budding 21st-century concept. In fact, the only drug in the U.S. today that is prescribed in gender-specific doses is the sleep medication Ambien. Research indicates that women process this specific drug more slowly than men do, leaving women far more exposed to dangerous side effects. This interesting research resulted in an FDA recommendation for reduced doses of Ambien for women, and with that recommendation we hopefully entered into the era of more targeted treatments.

New and fascinating findings are frequent in this field of study. For example, it has been suggested that neurological damage from alcohol abuse happens much more quickly in women than in men; that low-dose aspirin use as a heart-attack-preventive treatment only works for men, not for women; that women are more likely to develop lung cancer than men are, both as smokers and through secondhand smoke exposure; and on and on it goes. It has been well established that gender does matter in the type of diseases we contract, the behavior of the diseases, the medical treatment and the treatment results. However, the full extent of these gender differences is still to be seen, and for that we rely entirely on research in gender biology and the forward push to ensure proper gender representation in clinical trials.

Autoimmune disease is the third-most-common category of disease in the U.S. More than three quarters of people impacted by autoimmune disease are women, yet we do not have clarity as to why the frequency in women is so much higher than in men. Once that is established, targeted treatments can be explored and relief can be provided to the millions of women suffering from this disease. For that to happen, research funding is needed, and we as laymen will have to help provide some of that funding to accelerate this field of study.

I am personally involved in raising lupus awareness and funding for lupus research. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease where the body is unable to tell foreign invaders from its own healthy cells and attacks itself. This disease manifests itself predominately in young women, is very difficult to diagnosis and often leaves the hosts severely impaired; one in four is disabled, and only 31 percent of adults with lupus can work full-time. I want these young women to be given the opportunity, through medical advances specifically, to bloom into their full potential. They deserve it!

"The future depends on what you do today."

For more, check out my blog, Professional Women's Perspectives, or its Facebook page.